Poor Man's Cake

Very similar to spice cake, this recipe has been handed down in my family for generations. It is called Poor Man's Cake because you don't need milk, butter or eggs to make it. During the depression, these were expensive and during the War (World War II) they were rationed. It is an excellent, moist cake that needs no frosting. It is always a big hit at potlucks.




  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup shortening, melted
  • 1 box raisins (not snack size)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cloves
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking soda


Combine all ingredients in saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool at room temperature. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour into a large, generously greased and floured cake pan (I use a 13 x 9 inch pan) and bake at 325 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes. Center should be firm and a clean knife or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow to cool before cutting.

Source: Knox family recipe

By dove947 from Millinocket, ME

May 19, 20100 found this helpful

This is also called a 'War Cake'. It is a great one too!

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May 19, 20100 found this helpful

Great! A vegan cake :) I can't wait to make it.

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May 19, 2010 Flag
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  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 6 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • Dash salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


Mix the ingredients. Pour into greased 8x8 inch pan and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Serve warm with applesauce over cake. Other toppings that my family likes are ice cream, peaches, or just plain butter.

By Robin from Washington, IA

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May 19, 2010 Flag
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Note: According to Google, many people use raisins. I don't like them, but if you wanted to, you can add 2 cups of raisins, craisins, dates, or dried fruit.


Grease and flour loaf pan.

Mix 1 tsp. baking soda into a little bit of brewed coffee, perhaps 1/8 cup.

Mix and boil the following ingredients for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/4 tsp. each cloves, nutmeg, and salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

Into cooled mixture, mix 2 cups flour and 1 tsp. baking powder. Fold in coffee/soda mix.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.

Source: My grandma Lola Fannon lived her whole adult life in Oregon. I remember her octagonal clear green dishes and her old fashioned kitchens, where I could help her make cottage cheese and blackberry jam on a real wood stove.

This was one of her favorite recipes, and it comes out so moist you don't need anything with it except a cup of coffee or a glass of milk!!


I did find variations on this on google. It was originally from the 30's when people were low on food and made due with what they had.

By Sandra from Salem OR

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May 19, 2010 Flag
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Poor Man's Cake


  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder


Cook raisins and hot water for 10 minutes. Cream well sugar, shortening, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and egg. Add 1 cup cold water to cooked raisins (do not drain) and add to creamed mixture. Mix flour, soda, and baking powder and add to above. Bake in greased and floured 9x13 inch pan in 350 degree F oven, for 30 - 45 minutes until done.


Frost with Caramel Cream Frosting.

Caramel Creme Frosting:

Heat to boiling:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine
  • 1/4 cup cream

Stir constantly. Remove from heat,


  • 1 tsp. vanilla and powdered sugar until it gets to spreading consistency.

By Robin


Poor Man's Cake

My recipe is called crazy cake.

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 tsp. almond extract

Bake for 45 minutes in a greased and floured cake pan, 9x13. Frost with your own choice (09/08/2006)

By Tina

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